Saturday, October 27, 2007

A hopeful society


A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos. Human life is a gift from our Creator--and that gift should never be discarded, devalued, or put up for sale.
--President George W Bush, State of the Union Address, 31 Jan 06

Romanes Eunt Domus [sic]

laudatory temporis acti


I was finally able to read the article that I've heard home school moms talk about since, well, since I knew what "home-schooling" was. The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers is a snapshot of the argument for a classical education and a "fun" bit to read; it's feels like reclining into a warm bath of understanding and being refreshed by the splash of ambition it would take to pursue this attainable, though strenuous, goal.
I'll leave a few highlights that I enjoyed:
...if we are to produce a society of educated people, fitted to preserve their intellectual freedom amid the complex pressures of our modern society, we must turn back the wheel of progress...
...by teaching them all to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word...they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects...
...We cannot go back--or can we? Distinguo. I should like every term in that proposition defined. Does "go back" mean a retrogression in time or the revision of error? The first is clearly impossible per se; the second a thing which wise men do every day. "Cannot" --does this mean that our behavior is determined irreversibly, or merely that such an action would be very difficult in view of the opposition it would provoke?
...Latin should be begun as early as possible--at a time when inflected speech seems no more astonishing than any other phenomenon in an astonishing world; and when the chanting of "Amo, amas, amat" is as ritually agreeable to the feelings as the chanting of "eeny, meeny, miney, moe."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Conversion


A few years ago, while I was at work, I met a friendly Monsignor, whose name I will leave out since he's well-known around these parts, and somehow I mentioned that I had not been Catholic my whole life, and that I converted at the age of 18. With an endearing smile he lightly corrected me and said, "You joined the Church." I nodded with a compliance that tried to hide the discussion in my mind. Yes, technically, since I was christened as a baby and, at least, categorically, grew up in a Christian home, I didn't "convert" in the denotative meaning of one being baptized into Christianity from some other faith. I would think that, sacramentally, one being a catechumen and being baptized would be enough to account for a "conversion," whether or not I attended a Christian church in my youth.
And this was not the first time I had had this conversation with a priest or lay person. I can understand the desire to rely heavily on the more narrow meaning of the word conversion in order to foster a sense of ecumenism, but I fear that this is done at the expense of minimizing a person's particular experiences. This limited use of the word might have been more helpful in earlier times when those who sought to join the Church were either pagan, Jewish, or Muslim and were "converting" to Christianity. Now we have a very wide range of Protestant Christians who come to the Church and while they do have a religious knowledge of Jesus, that understanding isn't always just a few tweaks away from Catholic teaching.
In my experience, my whole worldview was changed. How I viewed my self, the human race, soteriological and eschatological views, you name it. It was very much a "conversion," including the sometimes accompanying condemnation or ostracizing by family or community members. I went from knowing God as a distant, loving person, much like any acquaintance, to knowing him intimately, as a spouse. This is so dramatically different of an experience, that when it happens between 2 people, we have an elaborate ceremony for it and call it a marriage. I consummated my relationship with Jesus with the Sacraments. I didn't just change my membership from one church to another.
So, I am in favor of using the word conversion more freely, whether we mean a particular, distinct moment in time or the on-going conversion we are all called to, where day by day we are actively striving to grow and mature and experience God on a deeper level. Maybe more verbal support for these changes would lend to them happening more frequently, more openly, and having a more lasting impact.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip


I got some of these yesterday and I'm in love. Just one of the reasons Autumn is such an amiable season.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Anastasia


Pros: fun allusions to early 20th century French culture
Cons: the rest of the movie

It will take years to reverse the misinformation Sophia received from this movie. I wouldn't even know where to start. Definitely a bummer for adults and not worth it for kids, either.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sal Grosso


For Ray's birthday, I took him to Sal Grosso. I figured I couldn't lose with Ray and a place that serves all you can eat meat on sticks. I have to say the meat was delicious! I loved the Fillet Mignon. Ray preferred the leg of lamb. I appreciated the hot and cold salad bar, though, the mashed potatoes could have been thicker and more flavorful, (I am a mashed potatoes connoisseur.) The drinks were EXPENSIVE. $10 a piece and you're never given a menu, so you don't know how much anything costs.
The best part was the business cards they put on your table. One side is red, the other green. If the red side is up, they will pass you by with the meat; if the green side is showing, they know to stop at your table and serve you. Well, I fidget and this led to several times of having to say yes to meat in order to not piss off any gauchos. The first time it happened I said, "Oops, accident!" And he didn't seem very happy, though Ray said he didn't care. So from then on, if it happened, I just said "yes" and stuffed down some delicious meat that there was no room for. In conclusion, I recommend this restaurant chain, just don't fill up on the salad bar so you can eat more meat! (And keep your hands off the cards!)

Jim uses the Archibald B**** Slap Method

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Down To Earth


So I was sitting up late one night ironing clothes for Ray which will now be a common occurrence since he now works in an office and I turned the tube on to keep me company. We only have like 5 channels, so my options were limited. I caught a glimpse of Chris Rock and thought, "can't be too bad..."
I guess it can. As the movie progressed, I remembered that I had seen it already and therefore any redeeming qualities that it might have possessed, like suspense, had withered away with each lame one-liner about some overused racial stereotype. AND, I'm not too fond of Wanda Sykes. Chris Rock is funny alone, though mostly due to his goofy grin and fool-hearty enthusiasm. I guess my real gripe with the movie was the lame amalgamation of after-death beliefs... a perennialist's concluding mess. And some lame New Age propaganda about us not being our bodies, but our spirits. Last time I checked I was an embodied soul. Physical and spiritual. "The color of your skin, the city you're from, the way you talk, your gender" (paraphrasing here) IS important. It is part of who you are, if you take these things away, what are you left with? Surely you should not be judged by characteristics alone, but you don't wake up in the morning and "put on" your body and choose which personal history would go well with the shoes. I wonder what these writers would think of Theology of the Body? For this movie, I say don't waste your time, unless it's 1 am and you're ironing clothes and you've forgotten that silence is golden.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Tom Kha Kai


I never had an interest in Thai food outside of the Thai Curry rice bowl with tofu at Noodle-- which some would argue is not actually Thai... but at Erica's bridal dinner I had a traditional Thai soup made of coconut milk and served in an ornate, silver, Fondu-like bowl and it was delicious! I recommend going to Tara Thai in Fayetteville for this soup if you have the chance, because so far, theirs is the best. For those of you who have never had it, think soup of coconut milk, lime juice, cilantro, chicken, scallions, and mushrooms. Bon Appetite!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Psychology as Religion


I finally finished reading Paul Vitz's Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship. I would love to give a detailed critique, but I have laundry to do from our trip to Ar-Kansas. (Yes, yes, I am full of justifiable excuses...)
I really enjoyed reading this book as he ambitiously covers ground in many different fields, such as education and politics. This is a great read, too, if you are interested in popular culture and the transformation of the family across the last few decades, etc. He clearly and sufficiently points out how psychology, as self-help alone, is transferred to the space originally occupied by traditional religions. He defends psychology as a science against the abuse of secular humanists. He implies that the New Age has spoiled psychology by the attempt at diluting its objective abilities. There are many quotes that I would love to pull from the text, but I'll just leave you with one.
No doubt there are some young people for whom the Rogerian self-therapy is a genuine constructive experience--for example, those reared by overly moralistic, overly critical, rigidly authoritarian parents. (I have been told that such families still exist, though I do not know any. I assume they must be close to extinction.) The great irony is that recent generations, which have so enthusiastically embraced antiauthoritarian selfism, have probably grown up with the least authoritarian parents in history. (p.110)